Tribe Life. Sumba

To imagine a place, a tiny island with real tribes, that live in ancient traditional houses made from bamboo and grass in tiny villages where they live off of the land, harvest their own crops, sell their crafts of intricately and unhurried hand-woven items textiles. Additionally they have annual deeply rooted traditions such as funerals and Pasola in the months of Feb and March which I witnessed with my own eyes and heart. Here is the experience of such a place that I not only visited but lived, as one of them, a member of the Waikabubak Tribe.

There are times throughout my travels where in the moment I have small monologues in my head where I’m giggling at the situations I am in and how on earth I’m even going to begin to describe this in written words to others, where I can really captivate the audience to feel and visualise how it was through my eyes, so initially writing this I felt like perhaps I would explain a little bit more through imagery and immerse the readers through my photography. So I’ll try my best to do a little bit of both as this 4 day stint was one of my rawest and soul shocking experiences I have entered into for a while.

I like to think after four years of being on the road, I’ve grown as a person and see the world with a diverse eye within cultures, humans and lifestyles throughout countries. Well this path of Sumba was a whole new disparate one, a plane ride, where I didn’t really have a clear idea or sense of what I was entering into, which sent my stomach into swirling nervous, spiralling knots. The plan began at the end of a humbling, heart melting week in Ubud and already having travelled a couple of times in Indonesia, I wanted the next point of call to be somewhere that was off the beaten track. So doing a little research, and by little I mean a few solid hours, we came to the conclusion that being in the perfect months to visit with the Pasola Festival and the famous funerals to attend, we packed up our bags and headed for the island of Sumba.

There a two main airports that you can fly into on the island; Tambolak and Waingapu. We wanted to start with the west side of the island as we found a reasonably reliable source on a couple of previous blog posts,  to stay with a woman who lives within a village that consists of 7 tribes. Yuli was her name. She lived in Waikabubak and her tribe was the Merapu tribe. We had no idea what to even think when we were on the hour’s long ride in the Jeep that picked us up; a couple glances at each other back and forth as we were passing some of the poorest shanty towns I have ever seen. Dogs and cats roaming the streets aimlessly, just skin and bones, and generally just a lot of chaos, people trying to survive from the littlest means possible from an island far from thriving in economy or tourism. My first sightings and thoughts was an overwhelming amount of empathy, wanting to be able to be a part of understanding a way I could help. 

Yuli spoke very good English, which was very comforting and put me a little more at ease, as very few people on the island cannot say anything more than a hello. We arrived in her village and walked up the hill to these beautifully peaked bamboo, grass thatched, traditional houses. With families and children who flocked to us. These radiant, unique looking beings, with enticing bold, brown eyes, held onto us with strong, deep curious stares. I think that’s the first time I can say I felt like a celebrity. We settled into the evening pretty quickly and Yuli walked us round her village and she explained a lot about the array of different tribes and their way of life.
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Just To Be. Heal In Ubud.

I want to start off on a note that is as clear, pure and raw as my life officially leads. Today was a day that I mark down as one of the most purifying, blissful moments, I have had in a long time. That spoke to me from the existing frequency of consciousness within, carried through the channel of tears that dripped down my face. There was a moment where time stood still. Where I felt connected, alive and my heart flooded with love and was beating a little faster. I’m about to share with you the real Ubud, the real Balinese people and the real culture that lives inside of these magnificent spirits. The very forefront of my being was blessed today to feel something that I wasn’t so sure how to even start writing down. However, once I digested and reflected on these experiences as my reality, I put my fingers to the keyboard and started to paint this canvas of consciousness and truth.

Wednesday the 5th of March 2015, I’ve been pinching myself since I arrived in Ubud just two days ago from a rather large stint of a beautiful but powerful hustle in the land they call down under; Australia. I came to continue a journey of what has been an incredible four years on the road. I continue the path of travel and this nomadic lifestyle on the road that I call home, yearning for the foreign and strange, and to be immersed into the people, religions, stories and ways of life that you know your destined to find. Simply to change the ways you view things and to fall in love with the love that this world has to offer; to do something that scares you every single day. To feel sparks of enlightenment and to be awoken just from one person in one tiny little village, not just trying but doing his/hers part to fill the world with a little more hope and compassion. To fall in love with yourself and surprise your soul at how you handle situations, experiences and to have the opportunities to answer questions that the norm of society wouldn’t necessarily bring awareness to. And of corse for you to ask questions and receive a response that leaves the biggest grin across your face for hours. To breath in a different air and to listen to the sounds of the locals, who build their incredible empire in villages that some people on this earth don’t even know exist. Women building homes, men carving and sculpting their craftsmanship to sell to the hustling and bustling tourists that flee past their stalls everyday. My goodness it’s a sight to paint.

You know, you walk down side streets here that lead to alleyways where groups of woman are huddled together lifting huge piles of rocks and building components on each others heads; passing them along the chain to the next power master who follows the 15-20 step path, balancing the act of strength and focus. Its one of the most incredible sights to see, and even when you stand to stare and admire their strength and peaceful way of work even when it can be made to look so strenuous and back braking they smile and wave. In fact they smile and wave at everything, there is not a single moment that has gone by where they do not share an acknowledgment or silly joke with you. That smile is not your normal western world smile as I like to view it. Its love to be shared from a race of people who ‘get it’ and by get it I don’t think I could begin to explain that concept if I tried. It’s almost like you have been let it on a secret; their secret. Like I said in the beginning, its a piece of heaven on earth, and its a way of life; you choose your way of life and you choose how you want your days to be and what you would like them to consist of. To see with your own very eyes what community and unity looks like, laughing, ‘shooting the shit’ (a great Balinese friend of mine named Ben says) and smiling from the inside out.

Its been an incredible four years on the road, and every time I save up enough from a working visa stint in some meaningless job (not all of them) just to hold on so tightly to that vision that you will always stay true too; to keep discovering and surprising yourself. You cannot wait to jump on that plane again, into the unknown; we nomads like to call it. To know that you have no idea what is on the other side, but your more ready than you’ve ever been, all over again. It’s a feeling that I don’t think any traveller could ever explain. To literally be ready to jump off the fringes of life again and trust your path, movements and gut instincts, that what your about to embark upon is something beyond extraordinary; your ready to be set free.
Life is a continual journey, full of bumps, edges and never-ending surprises. We have to remember as human-beings that we get one shot and this existence is temporary. What do you want to feel, how do you want to envision your days to be, how do you want to be fulfilled, not only within yourself but spiritually the channels that run through us all. To feel connected with this earth, from nature, your body, your soul, to connecting to humans, using every tool that we have. We are powerful beyond measures and when we take a leap of faith sometimes, we soon learn that it’s the best thing we could have ever done.

“People will always try to change the way you see things” – The Mind Unleashed


Imagine your days full of love, light, and never-ending horizons. To view and touch every element through your own self-being and not through the story, or journey of someone else. So if you are a first time traveller awaiting or procrastinating about leaving home, or quitting a job or starting a fresh somewhere new because of whatever event that has happened in your life, do not think things over too much or over analyse, trust your intuitions and your heart they are powerful tools that we must keep in tune with. If you’re asking yourself these questions, that’s normally a beautiful sign within that you are ready to set yourself free. So run, leap and jump; because remember to be old and wise, we must first learn to be young and foolish. I know there’s one thing that I am sure of and that’s if I am ever-blessed enough to live to an old age, it’s for damn sure I’m going to have some mighty good stories to tell.

 

So I’m here and I’m roaring (in fact on International Women’s Day) sitting on top of a hill at an incredible home-stay in Ubud owned and ran by beautiful, pure, strong empowering Balinese woman. Ubud is truly a gift, a small piece of heaven on earth. They say that “whether you like it or not, Ubud changes you for the better.” Many travellers will speak out when there on the road and agree by me saying that; all your days slowly end up meshing into weeks and months, where you cannot truly remember whether one event happened that day or the previous. With that sense of time, brings me a feeling of transience that is indescribable and eternal. Its a place where from what I see and am led to believe from what I have taken in over the past few days is that, its a place where people come from all walks of life. There are young travellers here, couples getaways, honeymooners, families, yoga teachers/students, meditation seekers, holistic healers, guru’s from all trademarks and gifts that they just want to share with the world. There are people here who are allowing and giving themselves time to be open to the healing and teaching process that Ubud just does. Heal and time are both concepts that are so vast and we learn through experiences and spiritual enlightenment. People who have come to find peace within themselves, open their hearts, their soul and their minds again, it’s simply the gift of magic from the Balinese. These people choose their days to consist of many, many laughs, endless smiles, a sense of community, wholesomeness, unity, love, to deliver strength in numbers and not stand alone, to give back to the earth that we’re slowly bit by bit destroying, to believe in something larger than any existence you’ve ever felt before and to them that is their religion and this is their world. If you are lucky enough to visit or even live here for a while, they are proud and welcome you with open arms to share something they call the secret to happiness.


I wanted to share one of the most touching stories I have yet to date, journal and blog with you. I was slowly wandering down a slightly more quiet street of Ubud on just my second day of being here. Taking it all in still, smiling and laughing with all the locals. There was a gorgeous, tiny white cottage style building just on the left hand side that had the most beautiful logo and quote on the wall. A young, Balinese man stood hand in hand, tall and proud just outside and smiled through his gorgeous eyes, he did not even try to wean us in; like the rare bundle of them that do. I’m a coffee lover and wanted to chat and just connect with him for a second and he allowed me to do just that. And I quickly discovered from his kind heart and explanation that the coffee shop just had its soft opening the day before and was brand new to this quiet lane way of Ubud. I had gone way over my budget for the day; as some days you do. But he got my heart which is never too hard. Agus his name was the barista of the cafe. This beautiful shop was called Juria Coffee they have the most magnificent vision, story and deliverance to which made this coffee not only one of the best coffee’s I have ever had, but to make this coffee one that I drank slowly, with care and before I knew it had dazed off into subdue deep thought.

This was one of those few moments that I was explaining earlier where time literally stood still and tears ran down my face sitting next to my soul sister who then caught onto the tears and we were sitting in Juria coffee sharing a defining moment at the start of this incredible journey of Asia. Juria Coffee is the first single variety coffee from Flores, Indonesia; another one of the magnificent parts of what makes up Indonesia’s’ 17,000 islands. The Juria Coffee’s vision is to be able to deliver two things; to provide a different taste and experience in their eyes, of a coffee bean that comes from the heart of Colon in Flores, where Juria is only harvested during the peak of the season, and the best tasting mature coffee cherries will be finely selected by hand. And the second is to give back to the Balinese farmers and this beautiful earth that we live on. The farmers who grow Juria lead a very simple and poor life. Until this very point of Juria coffee production. And just one mans vision which has now led to Juria Coffee being the only organisation in Indonesia offering micro-credit support to the farms cooperative. Taman Sari simply wants to share his passion and vision of food is life, without food we have no life. So the tears that fell down my cheeks in this tiny little inlet of a cafe was a moment that I will never forget, just one man with a vision who is giving back to the earth and its people. He is just one tiny dot on this globe that is doing his bit, sharing his vision and to feel the love and rawness behind his eyes is something I feel I am on a never-ending mission to seek out and immerse myself in. It was an ache from within almost a sigh of a relief that those tiny dots on this earth that from time to time we forget exist; are the ones who are creating great change and a revolution of their own. This light and raw love the Balinese have is truly something you have to feel and see for yourself, and that’s travel. To see things the way they are and not through the eyes or the perceptions of anyone else. Those very defining moments that make you think twice and turn a switch inside of you that allows you to remember why were here are the things that make me tick and stay hungry for.


The Balinese culture here live a simple life but full of compassion, intelligence and happiness. They pride themselves, especially the older generation, to give back to the earth that we feel we can take so much from. They are a rare breed of souls that want to share life’s gift to whoever will listen, and to teach to whoever wants to learn, “As passing the knowledge along to future generations is all we have” they say. And finally the real question to you is; why are you here, what are you in search for, what makes you tick and get up every single day, what are you chasing and in search for? I know I am in search of a never-ending journey, with a destination I have no idea of, but I am going and discovering and I finally feel like there’s some answers to the puzzle and some real, raw, loving, heart warming people who are doing good in this world and I want to be apart of that story.

 

So if you want to discover Ubud for the better you, the better world and the better humans that grace it…then come heal yourself in whatever form, shape or scope you need. And if perhaps you can’t answer the questions of today, then may I take a moment and guide you through many feelings, emotions memories and enlightenment of a journey through my eyes. It is here whenever you are ready to jump in and see whats on the other side.

I’m right here with you and remember the Universe has got your back, ok.